Summer Reading: Eight Artists, Writers, and Curators Share the Books They're Looking Forward to This Season

Artforum International, Summer 2016 | Go to article overview

Summer Reading: Eight Artists, Writers, and Curators Share the Books They're Looking Forward to This Season


NAIRY BAGHRAMIAN

The Art of Freedom: On the Dialectics of Democratic Existence by philosopher Juliane Rebentisch (Polity Press) is a book that only conditionally has to do with art, and more to do with ethics and politics. But to imagine their exclusion from the discourse of art would be unconditionally unthinkable.

NAIRY BAGHRAMIAN IS AN ARTIST BASED IN BERLIN.

NAOMI BECKWITH

My life in Chicago has taken on a Teutonic tinge, so I've become more engaged in arcane Germanic topics--and I'm keen to read the novel Black Deutschland by Darryl Pinckney (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), an erudite essayist and chronicler of the black literary tradition. Whereas that tradition's engagement with Europe generally pivots around a New York-Paris axis, Pinckney's novel sends a young, queer, aspiring writer from my hometown to seek refuge in Cold War Berlin, hoping to resuscitate the libertine spirit of Weimar Germany. I imagine disappointment for the protagonist but expect nuanced insights and beautiful turns of phrase from Pinckney.

NAOMI BECKWITH IS THE MARILYN AND LARRY FIELDS CURATOR AT THE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART CHICAGO.

CARISSA RODRIGUEZ

When Hilton Als invited viewers to read Brenda Shaughnessy's captivating collection Our Andromeda as part of his incisive exhibition at the Artist's Institute in New York that so generously attests, "My art has always been other people," I was excited to discover poems Shaughnessy had written to her younger self from her present perspective as an artist and mother. Als's and Shaughnessy's exhilarating conceptual moves through bodies and time inspire my thinking about how to show work and how to make experience perform not just retrospectively but retroactively--a delicate but seismic difference between looking back and transformation. I can't wait to read Shaughnessy's So Much Synth (Copper Canyon Press) in city parks below Fourteenth Street, where I spent my teenage summers wiling out with other "new wave" kids of immigrants, being new to ourselves.

CARISSA RODRIGUEZ IS AN ARTIST BASED IN NEW YORK.

BEN LERNER

Pascal Quignard's interlocking microhistories of the uses and abuses of music, translated by Matthew Amos and Fredrik Ronnback, add up to a masterpiece of renunciation, The Hatred of Music (Yale University Press). Quignard is (or at least was) an accomplished musician--in the early 1990s he ran the International Festival of Baroque Opera and Theater at Versailles--but in 1994 he turned his back on "all musical activities." I just finished writing a monograph called The Hatred of Poetry, and so I have been interested in how denunciations are really expressions of idealism: In order to protect music from the failure of particular performances, Quignard ends up valorizing silence. But the energy of his own writing undercuts that despairing logic. (Maybe a press should inaugurate an imprint of Hatred books--The Hatred of Fainting, The Hatred of Dance, The Hatred of ...)

BEN LERNER IS THE AUTHOR, MOST RECENTLY, OF 10:04 (PICADOR, 2015) AND THE HATRED OF POETRY (FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX, 2016). A 2015 MACARTHUR FELLOW, HE IS A PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH AT BROOKLYN COLLEGE. …

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